Despite rumours to the contrary, this week saw confirmation that the Liberal Party will preference Labor ahead of the Greens in every lower house contest at the July 2 Federal Election.
The deal strikes a huge blow to the Greens, who have had their eyes set on a number of Labor held seats across the country. In NSW, Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek will be feeling more confident in her battle to retain her seat of Sydney, as will Anthony Albanese who is in a fierce contest against Greens candidate Jim Casey in Grayndler.
In Victoria, the decision will help embattled Labor minister David Feeney hold off the Greens in Batman, and should see Labor retain the neighbouring electorate of Wills – a seat it’s held since its creation in 1949.
The Greens are unsurprisingly furious about the deal, although their allegations of dirty deals might be a bit rich, especially given they are preferencing controversial MP Fred Nile over a gay indigenous Liberal in the seat of Sydney.
Labor’s balancing act
Meanwhile, Labor has announced it will preference the Greens over the Liberal and National parties in all lower-house seats, with the Greens returning the favour in 139 out of 150 seats.
The deal is a tricky one for Labor on the public relations front. Bill Shorten is keen to distance himself from the Labor-Green alliance that helped to install the Gillard Government, vowing to never again enter into a power sharing agreement with the Greens. While swapping preferences somewhat contradicts this claim, Labor has decided that the benefits stemming from Greens preferences outweigh any negative perceptions associated with the deal.
In a rare move, both the major parties have chosen to issue split tickets, providing voters with two preferencing options.
Nick Xenophon has criticised the move, which he describes as a “cosy duopoly” between the major parties. However, the NXT is running an open ticket that also does not dictate where voters should direct preferences.
Interestingly, it is possible for the parties to change their how-to-vote cards before Election Day, with Labor’s candidate for Sturt, Matt Loader imploring NXT to share preferences with Labor. Watch this space.
Finally, pre-poll voting is now officially open! If trends from the past few elections continue, more than 4 million Australians will vote ahead of polling day. This means that the parties have announced their major policies earlier, and that negative advertising has already begun.
With Victorian school holidays overlapping the 2 July election date, you may like to check your eligibility to vote early at the AEC website: http://www.aec.gov.au/